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Ask me about archery, longbows especially.

Discussion in 'Research' started by John McDonell, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Especially:

    Every time you see a test or calculation of weapon-vs-armor, if the armor isn't iron it's only testing a tiny sliver of history.

    (And, composite bows? The Mongol bow's a top pick for best pre-gunpowder weapon ever, but 160 pounds? Yowza!)
     
  2. MRAcadence

    MRAcadence Acolyte

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    Okay so writing an adventure and there are a few people who are being trained within 2 days to use a bow. The guy teaching them is very very skilled. Would you say that it is possible to have them be proficient enough to hit a moving target like a group of 10 or so men charging at them in that amount of time ?
     
  3. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Anything is possible, but it's not plausible.

    Archery takes years of training to become proficient, regardless of the instructor's skill. There are many variables to consider, like strength in muscle groups you wouldn't normally use to pull and hold a bow at draw while aiming. Even more importantly, an archer needs to shoot a lot of arrows to work out mechanics of a proper draw and release.
     
  4. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    I recently shot a 100-lb. longbow. It takes immense strength and perfect form. It was a hell of a weapon, though. The one I shot was flat-shooting and fast, with surprisingly little handshock. It was exceptionally accurate, with a five-shot group inside an area the size of my palm, but part of that may be the fact that I had to draw it carefully and precisely to get it back to anchor. It also drove the arrows so far into the hay bales that it took two of us to pull them out again.

    This is not a beginner's weapon. I assess that it would take you a month to train someone how to draw a heavy bow correctly in the first place -- it's all in the geometry -- and another six months to refine their form and exercise them enough that they could even pull a 100-lb. war bow, much less use one all afternoon to train on it. I'm a strong guy. A couple of minutes with that 100-lb. bow was plenty for me, thanks.

    I shot a 70-lb. bow a few years ago -- a guy in my archery club has one. I have to admit that it may not have been built well -- and also that this 100-lb. bow may have been of extraordinary craftsmanship -- because the bigger bow was easier and smoother to pull, and had far less handshock, than I remember from the 70-lb. bow. It's possible that the 70-lb. bow was stacking.

    Stacking refers to a bow's spring rate curve. Draw weight is not linear (unless you have a compound bow); it increases with each inch of draw. All bows stack; it's a matter of physics. It's just a matter of when they start to really stack and affect the feel of the draw. The bow will eventually hit a point where the draw weight increases disproportionately to the amount of flexion (and therefore potential energy), and you can physically feel the string "hit the wall" as the force curve goes geometric. The trick is to make a bow that doesn't noticeably stack until it's past the draw point of 30" or so. One thing about this 100-lb. bow is that it was FREAKING HUGE, like, probably over 6' long. This is mathematically interesting because if you think about spring rates, longer bow limbs will stack later in the draw. Long enough bow limbs would conceivably start to stack past the hold.

    My primary hunting bow is a 55# recurve, which is considered pretty stout. She'll take it out of you after an hour of shooting. Anything over 60# is usually considered a monster. I had never seen a commercially-produced 100-lb. bow and I see absolutely no practical reason to own one. I certainly wouldn't use one in a competition. It is so physically large -- literally, taller than I am -- that I see no way to hunt with it or even carry it in the woods. It would snag on everything and make a hell of a racket. Especially around here with the thick underbrush.

    Seeing what a beast the 100-lb. bow is compared to my 55# bow, I still maintain that the 150-lb. bow is historically equivalent to the 25-lb. sword. Massive jeweled swords with overbuilt furnishings and oversized blades existed, but they weren't used for combat. They were wall decorations or ceremonial weapons, and it was archaeologists who'd studied rapier fencing in college and then handled these ornamental swords and tried to fence with them who started the whole idea that medieval swords were blunderous, exhausting things. I have to wonder if an archaeologist uncovered a massive Mongol bow that was actually ceremonial, or built to hang over a fireplace as a memento, or given to someone as a practical joke long ago or something, and did the math and thought, "Gee, all Mongols used 160-lb. bows. Wow, they were strong."
     
  5. MiguelDHorcrux

    MiguelDHorcrux Minstrel

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    Just an innocent question: Is it feasible for arrows to be really poisoned? I've seen movies where they will dip the tips in poison before firing it. Won't the air pressure dry or shake the poison off?
     
  6. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Oh, it's very feasible:

    Arrow poison - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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  7. DMThaane

    DMThaane Sage

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    The word 'toxin' actually derives from the Greek word for bow, so it's not only very feasible but its use actually worked its way into our language.
     
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  8. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    I get where you're coming from (sort of), but there's two things where your theory falls flat. First of all, there is evidence of war bows that were actually used for war that are in the 150+ range - the most complete collection comes from the Mary Rose ship in the 16th century. The Mary Rose bows ranged up to 180 lbs draw weight, though the most common draw weight was about 140 lbs.

    The second point is that the comparison to 25 lb swords is meaningless. 25 lb swords are practically unusable, but a 150-lb war bow is perfectly usable (Guiness record is 200 lbs). Just because a 100-lb bow is overkill these days, when if you want a ranged war weapon you get yourself a military gun, which is the harder, better, faster, stronger option does not mean that was the case in pre-gunpowder and early gunpowder times. These bows shot massive arrows designed to skewer people who were not heavily armoured at a fairly long range, and marching armies were not particularly concerned with stealth either.
     
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  9. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    I was going to post this, but you beat me to it. Since those bows were recovered from an active war ship, it's unlikely they were for ceremonial purposes.

    English archers were trained from boyhood, starting around age seven. As they grew, they moved up to heavier draw weights, spending years gradually working their way up until they could draw the heavy ones. The same would've applied to the Mongols. They paid a price, though. Skeletal remains believed to be those of archers show heavy wear on bones in the shoulders, arms, and upper back.
     
  10. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I have to agree. The evidence from the Mary Rose and a few other sources makes it pretty clear that 150 lb bows were used on battlefields in medieval Europe.
     
  11. Zack

    Zack Scribe

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    I used to shoot a compound bow when I was younger, but I know very little about recurve bows or longbows. Both follow the same principle of a fixed strong on flexible limbs, right? I remember compound bows being very loud when fired, making a whip-like crack. Of course you can put silencers on the limbs to make them quieter, but do receive and long bows have the same problem? Most people think bows are silent and I know compounds are not, but what of the other types?
     
  12. Zack

    Zack Scribe

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    Sorry about the mis-spelling.
     
  13. Pendragon II

    Pendragon II Acolyte

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    All right. I have a situation to present to you.

    One of my MCs is an archer, but with a twist. He is part of an independent branch of the Thorician (read: homeland) military known as the Snakekillers. The name is of course derived from the saying, Cut the head from the snake and the body shall wither, so I suppose it's fairly obvious what their battlefield application is. Killing the enemy officers from afar, strategically removing the opposing army's leaders to send their men into disarray; they're pretty much medieval snipers. Of course, this is fantasy, so there's some magic in there too, and this is where my question lies.

    Some exposition... there are two factors that set Snakekillers above the average archer. One, extensive training which takes place over years and includes skill, physical, and mental training. Two, each receives a "rune" (a way of bestowing an amplification enchantment onto a living creature) at each rank of Snakekiller, up to five. The first rune bestows increased strength and durability to the arms, back, and neck in order to aid in the use of high draw-weight longbows. To put this in perspective, I would say the strength allows for one and a half times the range of a normal man. The second rune bestows enhanced eyesight, including limited zoom which can be activated manually by focusing. This is manifested as a second iris ring. Meanwhile the third rune sharpens the mind; the fourth enhances abdominal, leg muscles, etc; and the fifth adds a third ring to the eyes.

    My question is, to begin with: Is this feasible? If so, (or if not) what would the range be for such an individual, assuming they have a very powerful longbow?

    This is a rather brief explanation of the Snakekillers, but hopefully it will suffice. Any thoughts you have are welcome.
     
  14. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    Eh... there's several issues I have with this, but the biggest one is that it's practically impossible to shoot accurately at long range with any sort of bow and human eyesight is not exactly the biggest issue.
     
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  15. Zack

    Zack Scribe

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    TheKillerBs, what about an enchantment to increase accuracy? Kind of like a heat-seeking missile but with magic... Unless that sounds stupid. I do like Pendragon ll's Snakekiller concept. Would be interesting. You could do a lot of infiltration and covert operations with an assasin group like that.
     
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  16. Zack

    Zack Scribe

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    By the way the iris manifestation of enhanced eyesight would look really cool! Keep that! It would give a Snakekiller a unique characteristic.
     
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  17. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I know for certain that silencers can be used for recurves. As a younger man, I used them myself for deer hunting. Modern silencers are typically made from rubber, but there are older examples made of natural materials like hide and even cloth like felt. The limbs themselves could also be lined on the areas where the string contacts the bow limb to make it quieter still.

    I'm not certain about long bows.
     
  18. MiguelDHorcrux

    MiguelDHorcrux Minstrel

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    Another noob question (though I guess this is what the thread is for after all haha)

    How do flaming arrows work? Do they even work? I mean, won't the wind extinguish the flames? Another thing, do arrows really spin when fired and do they "drill" through their targets on impact? And lastly, how realistic are multiple arrows being fired at the same time from a longbow? I have seen crossbows that fire multiple darts at the same time but I guess those are different from actual bows.
     
  19. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    My longbow is not very loud at all. Compound bows sound much louder to me. Next time I am at the range I will listen a little more carefully and let you know what I find. Never much thought about it.
     
  20. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Flaming arrows work. I have done them.

    We used to do them by tightly wrapping some cloth around the shaft just behind the head and then soaking it in lighter fluid. Works quite well. I suspect there are other methods.

    In fact at our medieval camping weekends we let the kids start the big bonfire that way. Place boar's head on carefully treated wood and away you go...



    I do not think you could fire multiple arrows at the same time from a long bow.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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